I was originally inspired by my daughter, a 4th year university student who last summer travelled to a remote village in Guatemala to help teach in a small isolated village school.
There were many facets of her choice that inspired me, but perhaps the most significant was seemingly the smallest.
Before she left for Guatemala, she did a lot of research on the area that she was headed for to better understand what to expect when she arrived, and one of the many things that she discovered was that the “school” where she would be assisting had almost no paper, pencils, crayons or markers.
It was, as you might have suspected, a VERY poor village, and as a result, very, very poorly equipped.
So, my daughter decided that she would see what she could do to help out with the situation.
She was working as a barista at a local coffee house at the time, so she asked her employer if she might post some simple signage and ask people to donate any school supplies that they might be able to provide.
Her request was a simple one, just a sign, and a cardboard box, where people could deposit any paper, pencils, markers, crayons.
She also went to the other area coffee houses and asked their permission to do the same thing, in the hope of increasing the amount of supplies that she might be able to obtain.
By the time she left for Guatemala a few weeks later, she was able to fill several large duffel bags and suitcases with school supplies and take them with her to the village where she would be assisting in the local school.
You can’t imagine how excited the school teachers were when my daughter arrived with her many suitcases filled with paper, pencils, etc… (They actually asked her NOT to tell the children as it would be too overwhelming for them to have so much at one time, but rather the teachers would give it to the students in smaller “doses” which they also hoped will extend the life of her gift as they called it).
This, was my inspiration.
As individuals, and as companies, we often struggle with how we can work to improve the lives of others. We often spend our time looking for the “big win” where we can have what we feel will be a significant impact, and we minimize our own ability to be affective, as individuals.
In short, we down play our ability to make a difference, focusing instead on the sheer size and magnitude of the challenge, and believing ourselves incapable of making a difference, or, we believe someone else will take up the challenge.
As a Hotel General Manager for many years, I have always been a part of charitable campaigns within my Hotels, both as a part of a larger Corporate commitment, usually selected and mandated by Corporate Office, and, as a part of a local initiative, ideally identified and spear-headed by my employees, in support of something that they felt was important.
These are and continue to be important reasons to get involved and support important causes.
But I’ve recently become much more aware of the power of one, and the importance of recognizing our own greatness as it relates to our ability to be compassionate, and to choose to make a difference, no matter how small our effort may initially seem.
Imagine what we could achieve if everyone took on the challenge, to make a difference, in whatever way they could, today.
Imagine if we did not spend the time to think about what the impact might be if our efforts were not as successful as we wanted them to be, but instead just took action, did something, anything.
And what if our actions inspired just one other person to do the same?
Wouldn’t it be worth it?
I’ve decided to take this on, and I plan to incorporate this message into the work that I do with organizations and schools, and I’m asking you to take up the challenge.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale
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